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Natural Flood Management in East Devon

  • by JW

“Helping nature to correct manmade artificial landscapes.”


Earlier in the summer, Radio 4’s Costing the Earth looked at ‘natural flood management’:

Flooding Britain

What’s the best way to prevent flooding?

Caz Graham finds out whether there might be environmental alternatives to building ever-higher flood defences. She talks to a campaign group in Kendal in Cumbria, where there are multi-million pound plans to build flood barriers through the town centre, and asks the Environment Agency whether there could be more imaginative alternatives.

Is Natural Flood Management the answer? Caz talks to academics and experts to find out what new solutions there might be, and what other countries are doing.

BBC Radio 4 – Costing the Earth, Flooding Britain


Flooding from the sea:

At the other end of the country, there are questions about ‘building ever-higher flood defences’:

Beach Management Plan: raising the height of the splash wall – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And ‘multi-million pound plans to build flood barriers’ against the sea are being questioned in these parts too:

Beach Management Plan: reframing the question – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Lower Otter Restoration Project:

But if we look at flood defences for rivers in the West Country, there does seem to be a fresher approach.

Lower Otter Restoration Project to recieve £8.5m funding – Vision Group for Sidmouth

This project is not without controversy – and there’s quite a debate here:


Plans to flood part of River Otter sparks opposition from campaign group – Devon Live

With the last comment from the District Council’s environment portfolio holder:

The Lower Otter is a manmade artificial landscape and this scheme is simply helping nature to correct what we now understand was a mistake. So let’s not make another mistake and lose the chance to put back what nature intended.

Otter Restoration project: Stop the Swamp, or future proof against climate change? | East Devon Watch


‘Rewilding’ rivers:

The epithet ‘rewilding’ has become controversial – and perhaps should be avoided:

Rewilding seeks to reinstate natural processes and, where appropriate, missing species – allowing them to shape the landscape and the habitats within.

Rewilding Britain | Defining rewilding

But it does have its financial benefits:

Councils and insurance companies calculate what re-naturalising rivers and restoring floodplains and watersheds can save them in terms of flood-damage costs. 

Rewilding: transforming conservation methods


Beavers reduce flooding risks:

Earlier this evening, the documentary film maker Simon Reeve was in Cornwall:

Travelling inland from the beautiful coast, Simon crosses a county of stunning moorlands. Agriculture is still Cornwall’s biggest employer, and there are exciting new visions for how less intensive forms of farming could be more profitable and environmentally friendly. Simon also discovers the rewilding project where reforesting uplands and introducing beavers promise to tackle the problem of widespread flooding.

BBC Two – Cornwall with Simon Reeve, Series 1, Episode 2

And BBC Two’s AutumnWatch from a couple of years ago was in Cornwall:

How Beavers Prevent Flooding – Cornwall Beaver Project – YouTube

Cornwall Beaver Project | Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Meanwhile, in Devon in August this year:

On the River Otter: beavers here to stay – Vision Group for Sidmouth

With the final word from the Mail from earlier in the year:

Beavers DO reduce flooding and boost wildlife say scientists after five-year trial since the animals were reintroduced to Devon river

Research by the team of scientists, overseen by Professor Richard Brazier from the University of Exeter, found they are providing benefits to people, including in the flood-prone community of East Budleigh. Beavers have constructed six dams upstream of the village, which have measurably and significantly reduced peak flood flows through the community, the report said…

Beavers DO reduce flooding and boost wildlife say scientists | Daily Mail Online


Meanwhile, on the River Sid:

River Sid |

Sidmouth resident catches rare footage of otter in the River Sid | Exmouth Journal

A Walk along the Sid Valley – Explore Devon

Looking after the River Sid – the restoration project making a splash in East Devon | The Exeter Daily

Flood Warning Info – River Sid at Sidbury and Sidford | Flood Assist Insurance

River Sid floods in The Byes Sidmouth 7th July 2012 – YouTube

photo: River Sid at Fortescue © David Smith :: Geograph Britain and Ireland